Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, January 3, 2002


Chicago center Olin Kreutz, a St. Louis School alumnus, was one of four Bears named to the NFC Pro Bowl team.

Pro Bowl is real
this time for the
Bears’ Olin Kreutz

The St. Louis alumnus will
be coming home for the Feb. 9
NFL All-Star game

By Dave Reardon

The name Olin Kreutz and the words Pro Bowl have been linked before.

This time it's for real, and Kreutz can be proud, not embarrassed.

Kreutz, the fourth-year Chicago Bears center from Aina Haina and St. Louis School, was voted to the NFC Pro Bowl team, which was announced yesterday. The game is Feb. 9 at Aloha Stadium.

Kreutz was an alternate the previous two seasons, including last year despite missing nine games due to knee injuries.

"I don't think I should have been mentioned. It's an honor and stuff, but the year I had," Kreutz said last summer.

This year he has avoided injuries; it's no coincidence that the Bears are headed for the playoffs and Kreutz will still be playing football in February.

"I'm pretty shocked, but it's nice," Kreutz said from his home in the Chicago suburb of Gurney yesterday. "It's a lot better than being an alternate. Even if your name is connected to the Pro Bowl all the time, you don't expect to go because you don't want to get disappointed. I'm happy but shocked. The main thing is to concentrate on the playoffs."

The Bears lead the NFC Central with a 12-3 record going into Sunday's regular-season finale at home against Jacksonville. Chicago went 5-11 last season.

"The team's success also helps get guys in the Pro Bowl," Kreutz said. "I thought any one of our offensive linemen could have made it. Our two guards (Rex Tucker and Chris Villarrial) make me look better all the time."

The offensive line has been a big part of the Bears' turnaround. Rookie Anthony Thomas has rushed for more than 1,000 yards and quarterback Jim Miller has been sacked an NFL-low 16 times.

Tackle James Williams joins Kreutz, linebacker Brian Urlacher and special teams player Larry Whigham as Chicago's representatives.

Kreutz, who lives a quiet life in Gurney, said he is looking forward to escaping the cold Midwest weather a month early. He was planning a return to Hawaii in March to marry his fiancee, Wendy Duarte of Kaneohe.

Kreutz said his knees, and a shoulder he hurt two years ago, feel fine "especially for this time of year."

He hopes the Bears can continue their magical season deep into the playoffs.

"We thought we could win a lot of games from camp," he said. "We've been getting it done and hopefully will keep it going."

Two other players with Hawaii ties were named to their third Pro Bowls yesterday. New York Jets center Kevin Mawae (whose Hawaiian father was born and raised on Kauai) and Denver Broncos kicker Jason Elam (a former UH star) will represent the AFC.

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